The Quarantine Station

Status: 1st Draft

The Quarantine Station

Status: 1st Draft

The Quarantine Station

Book by: Miranda J Taylor

Details

Genre: Historical Fiction

Content Summary


A new emigrant to the colony of Victoria, Australia in the 1850's faces tragedy and hardship as she labours to make a life for herself and her daughter, amidst the often harsh and cruel landscape
of a burgeoning new world.

 

 

Content Summary


A new emigrant to the colony of Victoria, Australia in the 1850's faces tragedy and hardship as she labours to make a life for herself and her daughter, amidst the often harsh and cruel landscape
of a burgeoning new world.

Author Chapter Note


Any and all feedback gratefully accepted.

Chapter Content - ver.0

Submitted: July 19, 2021

Comments: 2

In-Line Reviews: 5

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.0

Submitted: July 19, 2021

Comments: 2

In-Line Reviews: 5

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Chapter 21

Counting Scars

Once the girls were settled in the bedroom, tucked in but still whispering excitedly to each other, Kit and Jimmy retired to the settee in the parlour.

“So, where did you pick up Lizzy?” he asked.

“Her mother was a friend of mine. We met on the Ticonderoga. She engaged in a line of work she secretly wished for Lizzy too.She knew what her mother had in mind and wanted no part of it. I don’t judge a woman for doing what she must to support her child, but wanting her to --” Kit shuddered.

“Such women have their place in our society.”

“Their place! Do you agree with what she does?”

“Let’s just say that some men, lonely men, need their services.”

Kit frowned. “James Monahan! I’ve never heard you speak as such.”

“Let’s have a drink. I have a bottle of the finest single malt scotch whisky imported from Scotland.” He rose from the settee and reached for the bottle sitting on the mantle above the fireplace.

“No, thank you. It’s not for me. I want to talk with you about an offer I had while at the quarantine station.” Kit's memories of Tom brought a brief smile to her face. “I assisted the attending doctor with the sick, and he thought I had such an aptitude, he arranged for me to train as a nurse here in Melbourne.”

Jimmy poured himself two fingers of whisky. “Nursing, you say?”

“Yes. It would only take six months, and you could watch the girls while I’m gone.”

“I can’t allow it.”

Kit straightened. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, the answer is no.”

“Jimmy, this is an opportunity for me to make something of myself, to have a better future for us and –”

“No.” He drained the whisky from his glass and grabbed the bottle.

“I don’t see the harm in it. You’ve put most of your money in to this cottage. We have to have money to live on.”

“Then I’ll go back to the diggings.”

“You don’t mean that.”

He poured another drink, stepped in front of the window and looked out. “The subject is closed.”

Kit stood. “I’ll be off to bed then.” She moved to the doorway and paused. “Are you coming?”

“When I’ve finished.”

“Right then.” Kit strode to the bedroom and hurriedly undressed for bed.

***

During the night, Kit awoke to Jimmy’s cries. She sat up and flung back the covers. The girls stirred but didn’t wake. Kit lit a candle and padded to the parlour to find Jimmy lying asleep on the settee. He lay on his front with his arms above his head, clutching the seat’s arm as though he were clinging on for dear life.

“No,” he murmured. “I can’t take anymore.”

Kit placed the candle on the mantle, and stooped over Jimmy, gently shaking his shoulder.

“Jimmy. Jimmy, wake up.”

He turned over and blinked.

“Are you all right?” Kit pushed a clump of damp hair from his face. “Here, let me take this soaked shirt off you.” She lifted the bottom and glimpsed a long, deep scar beneath his ribs before he tugged the cloth from her hand.

“Don’t fuss, Kit.”

“Why do you have that scar?”

He sat and swung his legs off the settee. He stood and reached for the bottle on the side table, refilling his glass.

“Talk to me, Jimmy. Please!”

He turned his back on her and spoke over his shoulder. “I wasn’t sent to Norfolk Island for a holiday. Punishment was harsh. Brutal even.”

“And the scar?”

“It’s one of many. I copped a flogging or two.”

Kit stood and moved in front of him. She reached out and slowly undid the buttons on his shirt. She gently pushed it from his shoulders and moved behind him.

“Oh, my.” She wiped a tear from her cheek. Kit barely touched his skin as she ran soft fingers across the hard, ridged lines on his back, imagining the wounds when they were fresh and raw. “How many did they give you?”

“Twenty the first time. Then another fifty. I lost count after that.”

She moved to face him. “Why were you punished?”

He stared into his glass before answering. “I tried to escape once.”

“But where would you escape to from an island?”

“The local inhabitants came and went in canoes made from the bark of big trees. I often saw them remove the bark in one big piece. The canoes were simple, and I could have made it to the mainland in one of those.”

“And the other floggings?”

Jimmy took a gulp from his glass and stared blankly at the floor. “A man didn’t have to do much wrong to get a flogging, or a rifle butt in the back or the ribs by the convict constables. And if you didn’t keep your wits about you, the other men might jump you and give you a hiding because they were losing their minds. They even put me on the treadmill once because I hit a man for trying to steal my supper.”

“The treadmill?”

“Yeah. They used it to grind grain. I must have done fifty mile straight on that thing in one day.”

Kit placed her arms around him and kissed him on the shoulder. “You’re safe now. I’ll take care of you.”

He placed his hand on the side of her head and leaned in.

She squeezed his hand and stepped away.

“I must get back to the girls. Try not to wake them when you come to bed.”

 


© Copyright 2022 Miranda J Taylor. All rights reserved.

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